ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
Upon arriving at Arnold Air Force Base last summer, I received the mission brief that most of you have seen.
Until that point, I had no real understanding of what goes on within AEDC on a day-to-day basis. In retrospect, I didn’t get it that much better after the brief. It wasn’t until I was lucky enough to be invited to join Col. Jeffrey Geraghty and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Heckman on several site visits across Arnold AFB that I was able to comprehend why AEDC is so vital to the security of our nation. The few trips I’ve made thus far have made a few things clear to me.
First, Arnold is a truly amazing place. Each of my visits has left me in awe of the highly skilled uniformed, civilian and contractor workforce. Likewise, I have been blown away by the work that is being done by these dedicated Americans.
I have been fortunate enough to be present during the discussion, or presentation, of several classified tests. Though it was nearly impossible for a non-engineer like myself to conceptualize in the abstract, simply putting eyes on a small sliver of AEDC operations has driven home for me that the testing being conducted across the Complex is truly at the cutting edge of technology and is critical to the nation’s continued technological edge on the battlefield.
These experiences have made me realize that meeting the demands of the National Defense Strategy with the resources we have been given will require discipline from every member of the AEDC team, whether they be an active duty service member or a contractor employee, an engineer or a member of the Wing staff. Discipline here doesn’t mean enforcement of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or use of the civilian disciplinary system. What I mean by discipline is self-control, single-mindedness, or one of the hallmarks of the 2020 strategy, focus.
To meet this awesome responsibility to our nation, each and every one of us must maintain a laser focus on the actions necessary to create and maintain a testing complex that is second to none, and thereby ensure that our fighting forces meet the same standard. Maintaining this laser focus will require disciplined thought and action. It will require every individual to put aside his or her personal desires and issues, and it will require that we do this every hour of every day.
The key to success is ensuring that the activities of the individual move the entire AEDC team closer to the goal of mission excellence, rather than causing unnecessary friction between the moving parts. Each of us should question every action we take during duty hours – every email that we send, every meeting that we schedule, every issue that we raise to our supervisors – and ask ourselves, is what I’m doing right now driving this organization closer to meeting the needs of the National Defense Strategy? Or, alternatively, are the actions I’m engaging in right now, focused more about me and what I want?
To be clear, this doesn’t require us to completely check our personalities at the door, or to suffer unnecessary hardships in the name of the collective good. It does, though, require us to suffer perceived slights or blows to our egos, the correction of which will not advance the mission, create a safe working environment, or serve important policy goals such as diversity and inclusion; for we can’t afford to waste time and energy on activities that are not fully synchronized with the mission of proving the superiority of the systems that are required to ensure our National Defense Strategy succeeds.
Paraphrasing Lt. Col. George Washington’s message to his Virginia Regiment captains in a July 1757 letter – discipline makes small numbers formidable. Though the task before us is daunting and our resources scarce, if we engage in self-discipline in order to ensure unity of purpose in all endeavors, I am confident that this great team will succeed in creating a Complex.